What is EB 5 Visa Program and How It Works?

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The immigrant Investor Program, commonly known as “EB-5”, has gained huge popularity among foreign investors. It is an important source of investment for development projects in the US that brings billions of dollars to the US economy by creating tens of thousands of job vacancies in the United States. However, it is important to know that this program is unlike any other program managed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that is the only visa program that focuses on creating jobs and growing US economy. It is mandatory to create special challenges and opportunities.

How Does it Work?

  • This program is the only visa program that is designed to allow foreign investors to gain permanent residency in the United States. The minimum investment requirement is $1 million or $500,000 if the investment takes place in a rural or targeted high employment area where unemployment is 150% of the national average. This investment should also create at least ten full-time jobs.
  • There are more than 10,000 EB 5 visas available each Fiscal Year.
  • When it comes to qualifying for the EB 5 program, immigrants can invest directly in a business, or through regional centers approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to promote economic growth in designated areas.
  • If the application of investor is approved, the investor can apply for conditional residence in the US. After approval, the conditional residence lasts two years, and after that, the investor can apply for permanent residency, but if the investment has resulted in the creation of at least ten jobs.


  • Congress started the EB 5 immigrant investor program or EB 5 visa program in the year 1990 in order to stimulate the United States economy via job creation as well as capital investment by foreign investors.
  • Initially, the program was undersubscribed with a handful of the 10,000 available visas being used each year. In the year 2005, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services created an Investor as well as Regional Center Unit in order to increase oversight and internal coordination and issued new draft recommendations created to accelerate processing as well as enhance efficiency.
  • Since 2005, the rates of approval have improved; however, the denial rate for petitions to remove conditions on permanent residency has reduced from 38% in 2005 to 6% in 2012.
  • The number of EB 5 visas issued to foreign investors increased from low to more.
  • The number of issued visas in regional centers reached 9,130 in the year 2014. According to the State Department, a total of 9,228 visas were issued in the fiscal year 2014, including direct investment non-regional center EB 5 project.

Regional Centers

A regional center can be an economic entity. It can be private or public. It is something that promotes economic growth, regional productivity, job creation, and capital investment. When it comes to obtaining regional center designation, the entity must submit a proposal to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. To approve regional center designation, USCIS needs that the proposal should show how the center will promote US economic growth in a geographical region within the United States.

The regional centers play an important role by vetting investors and investment projects to make sure top-notch, long-term job creation. In addition to this, regional centers have become the predominant vehicle for EB 5 investment program. As of January 4, 2016, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has approved more than 790 regional centers.   


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